The Northern Antarctic Peninsula has recently exhibited ice-shelf disintegration, glacier recession and acceleration. However, the dynamic response of land-terminating, ice-shelf tributary and tidewater glaciers has not yet been quantified or assessed for variability, and there are sparse published data for glacier classification, morphology, area, length or altitude. This paper firstly uses ASTER images from 2009 and a SPIRIT DEM from 2006 to classify the area, length, altitude, slope, aspect, geomorphology, type and hypsometry of 194 glaciers on Trinity Peninsula, Vega Island and James Ross Island. Secondly, this paper uses LANDSAT-4 and ASTER images from 1988 and 2001 and data from the Antarctic Digital Database (ADD) from 1997 to document glacier change 1988–2009. From 1988–2001, 90 % of glaciers receded, and from 2001–2009, 79 % receded. Glaciers on the western side of Trinity Peninsula retreated relatively little. On the eastern side of Trinity Peninsula, the rate of recession of ice-shelf tributary glaciers has slowed from 12.9 km2 a−1 (1988–2001) to 2.4 km2 a−1 (2001–2009). Tidewater glaciers on the drier, cooler Eastern Trinity Peninsula experienced fastest recession from 1988–2001, with limited frontal retreat after 2001. Land-terminating glaciers on James Ross Island also retreated fastest in the period 1988–2001. Large tidewater glaciers on James Ross Island are now declining in areal extent at rates of up to 0.04 km2 a−1. This east-west difference is largely a result of orographic temperature and precipitation gradients across the Antarctic Peninsula. Strong variability in tidewater glacier recession rates may result from the influence of glacier length, altitude, slope and hypsometry on glacier mass balance. High snowfall means that the glaciers on the Western Peninsula are not currently rapidly receding. Recession rates on the eastern side of Trinity Peninsula are slowing as the floating ice tongues retreat into the fjords and the glaciers reach a new dynamic equilibrium. The rapid glacier recession of tidewater glaciers on James Ross Island is likely to continue because of their low elevations and flat profiles. In contrast, the higher and steeper tidewater glaciers on the Eastern Antarctic Peninsula will attain more stable frontal positions after low-lying ablation areas are removed.